Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Here's the brutal, unvarnished truth. The best thing about THE DOLL SQUAD (1973) is the poster pictured above. You know it. I know it. It's a great image that would have been right at home on the cover of a '70s era men's sweat magazine or paperback novel. If it had been a comic book,. Wally Wood would have been a great choice as artist.

Instead, we got a film produced, directed and written by Ted V. Mikels, an auteur of low budget, exploitation films. Mr. Mikels has no one else to blame for how craptastic THE DOLL SQUAD is. And trust me, having just watched the film this afternoon (recorded off of TCM), I know whereof I speak.

An unknown master criminal blows up a U.S. space probe at the start of the film (lots of stock footage used here). He sends threatening messages to a U.S. Senator and a CIA agent Anthony Eisley. They turn to the computer(!) to determine the best way to fight this menace and the computer supplies the answer: The Doll Squad.

Cue psychedelic credits and the beginning of an incessant disco/spy film musical score (composed by Nicholas Carras) that literally never stops playing throughout the rest of the film. Luscious redhead Sabrina (Francine York) leads the squad which is composed of such beautiful babes as Leigh Christian and cult icon Tura Satana. They soon determine that the mastermind is one of their own, a former agent named Eamon (played by the late Michael Ansara). The squad invades his island fortress and thwarts his plan to release bubonic plague carrying rats throughout the world.

The wardrobe of DOLL SQUAD consists of low cut blouses, hot pants, go-go boots, bell bottoms and bikinis. And that's just for the men (ba-dum-bum). When the squad goes into action on the island, they all change to their signature uniforms: green jumpsuits with white piping and white boots.

The budget for the film (reportedly $256,000) clearly didn't allow for the use of real pyrotechnics. This is an action film in which all of the explosions (and there are several) are optically super-imposed over the action. The budget apparently didn't cover the construction of sets as all of the scenes, both interior and exterior, appear to have been shot entirely on locations and in real homes and businesses.

The editing is atrocious. The print I watched may have some missing footage as there were several abrupt jump cuts. During the climactic assault on the island fortress, time and space are repeatedly fractured as we go from day to night to day and so on. The camera work, framing and overall cinematography has all of the visual panache of a driver's ed film.

 THE DOLL SQUAD was clearly targeted for undiscriminating audiences in rural drive-ins and urban grind houses. Mikels was far from a competent filmmaker but he sure knew how to sell the sizzle, not the steak. You bought your ticket to THE DOLL SQUAD for one reason and one reason only: to see a bunch of hot babes run around shooting bad guys and that's exactly what you get. 

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